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Iraqi Vice President Says Stability Can Only Come From Elections


Violence continues to mount ahead of the 30 January vote RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) interviewed Iraqi Vice President Ibrahim al-Ja'fari on 20 January about the upcoming elections, and the mood of the Iraqi people in a post-Hussein Iraq. (The following is a transcript of the Radio Free Iraq program.)

RFI: Ibrahim al-Ja'fari, vice president of the Iraqi Republic, said in an exclusive interview with our radio that the Iraqi people are now "moving by their clear...determination" to free and smooth elections and that "the will of people is stronger than the will of enemies."

Al-Ja'fari: There has been a clash between two wills: the will of people and the hostile will. The Iraqi reality has confirmed that the will of the people is stronger than the will of the enemies. The thing is that Saddam Hussein misguided the Arab countries and some Islamic countries as well as he misguided public opinion worldwide. He stood against the Iraqi public opinion. He put many members of the Iraqi elite into mass graves. He was killing intellectuals. He beheaded the Islamic movement, from whatever communities and backgrounds its members had come. But despite that, the will of the Iraqi people was not broken by that.

So now, when the media, politics, and connections with the world are open for Iraqis to express their will, the Iraqi people are moving by their clear and sincere determination. There are no prescribed and binding forms, there are no people who would want to and who could impose them. There is the freedom to refuse them but there is no longer the burden of the mentality that rivals must be removed by impure means.

For this, if anyone is pleased by working on sabotaging the elections, then his or her attempts are determined to fail. It is true that they may cause some sacrifices on the part of our people but Iraqis will not be defeated by the price of their sacrifices. Sacrifice will turn thoughtful people into living values that will last in the blood of Iraqis. Due to this, any harassment and [evil-minded] attempts are determined to fail whatever the price was.

I am convinced that the election process must speed up a democratic process that will result in improving the situation of democracy and in new, stable politics. As for those who want to boycott the elections from well-meant positions, just because their analysis of the situation is different, I think that the door is still open for them. They can still revise their opinion and participate in the process. This would be just one step in a series of steps toward the next elections in the future. All societies with a rich experience in holding elections also have a gradually growing sense of independence [in opinion]. That is why when we examine and evaluate [the experience of] the stable countries of the world, we can find the concept of stability inseparable from the concept of elections. Stability is always present [there] in the process of elections. The people themselves go out in the streets and choose the parliamentary, judiciary, and executive authorities, making thus their future themselves.

RFI: About the measures taken by the Iraqi government to extend security during the election process, al-Ja'fari said:

Al-Ja'fari: There is a [special] council, [called] the National Security Council, linked to the state and the cabinet. It has been holding frequent meetings. Today, the prime minister also spoke about it. He said that its members have continued their sessions and their efforts for securing the term decided for holding the elections.

There are several ministries involved in the affairs. There are also other personalities [apart from ministers] who work in this narrow [National Security] Council on securing that the decided term [for the elections] is kept. In an emergency situation, the [National Security] Council may need some coordination with the multinational forces and may benefit from them on this level. At the same time, I think that the security consciousness, which is now sufficient among Iraqis generally, will make an excellent ground to prevent many sabotages that would be likely to appear. All people of our nation have a high security consciousness as well as a strong will and determination to conduct the elections until their successful end.

RFI: When asked about the high number of candidates lists and how this can influence the process of the elections, al-Ja'fari said:

Al-Ja'fari: I would say that the high number is an expression of two facts. The first fact is that the old political subjects [from the anti-Saddam underground opposition] are present and already well-established. They went through the times of despair when they could not step in the paths of this world. They seemed to be sentenced to obliteration. They were belittled and hiding. It is freedom now, so naturally they have gone out in public, appeared in politics and the media, presented their program, and expressed what they want. This is the natural state of things, unlike the previous one-party system of Iraq. Now, the typical features of Iraqi politics have returned to their natural state where we can see this high number [of political parties].

The second fact is that there may be some political elimination pending. A number of political groups have problems [to survive]. Even this is natural: you cannot prevent any person or any group from establishing a new political group. If they have historical roots, a specific understanding of politics, a political program, a political vision to express, then the future is before them. The group can either develop its discourse, or it can -- which is not so good -- arrive at the decision to merge with another group.

Translation by RFI's Petr Kubalek.

[For news, background, and analysis on Iraq's historic 30 January elections, see RFE/RL's webpage "Iraq Votes 2005".]
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